A major reason why top young defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo remain unsigned by the Boston Bruins is that the team is working with very little salary cap space to fit the dynamic duo on to the roster. CapFriendly estimates that Boston has just $7.3MM in cap room (albeit committed to 23 players, so slightly more in reality). That amount would make it tough to sign McAvoy alone, nevertheless both. The team likely will need to find a way to move out some salary, but a trade may not be the only route. It has already been revealed that John Moore will not be ready to begin the season and Kevan Miller remains a question mark as well. The combined $5.25MM in salary between the two defenseman would certainly help to get their younger counterparts back under contract. However, NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggery also believes that there have been hints that David Backes may begin the year on the shelf as well. Backes, 35, is undoubtedly the most inefficient usage of the Bruins’ payroll, accounting for $6MM against the cap but only producing 20 points last season. Trading Backes would have been the ideal move for Boston to make this off-season, but doing so likely proved to be too costly. They may still wind up removing him from the books though, as Haggerty points to comments made earlier this summer by GM Don Sweeney about an undisclosed Backes injury and the complete silence on the topic ever since as a possible sign that he is still struggling. Backes does have a concussion history, which Haggerty believes could be the culprit. However, it’s also very possible that the aging forward simply has a nagging injury that both sides are waiting to evaluate in training camp. If Backes isn’t 100% or resumes playing poorly, odds are that both team and player would rather opt for surgery or some other long-term rehab rather than the likely alternative of Backes spending time in the minors this season.
- Defenseman Adam McQuaid was at the Bruins’ first informal skate today, but The Sports Hub’s Ty Anderson says not to read into it too much. The long-time Bruin still has many friends on the team and connections to the city, but Anderson reports that he is in no way officially linked to the team right now via contract or tryout offer. In fact, McQuaid was wearing his Columbus Blue Jackets gear at practice today, the only non-Bruin in the mix. McQuaid left Boston around this time last year, after nine years with the team, in a trade to the New York Rangers for a pair of picks and recently re-signed defenseman Steven Kampfer. He was later moved to Columbus at the deadline. However, despite his trade value last season, McQuaid still remains unsigned after another injury-plagued season, including a season-ending concussion. McQuaid’s market remains a mystery, even as he stands as one of most experienced UFA defensemen available. For that reason, Anderson notes that, while McQuaid is not connected to the Bruins right not, a possible reunion cannot be ruled out. With McAvoy and Carol unsigned and Moore and Miller injured, Anderson writes that McQuaid would be a preferable addition over camp invite Alex Petrovic if the Bruins feel they actually need to add an NHL defenseman before the season begins.
- Former star Bruins goalie Tim Thomas spoke with the media today for the first time in years, responding to his election to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter writes that, in explaining his reluctance to be a public personality, Thomas revealed that he has been struggling with previously unreported concussion-related symptoms. In fact, Thomas implied that health was a major reason why he did not return to Boston during the team’s Stanley Cup run this spring. The Bruins’ playoff push was the first time that Thomas had re-engaged with hockey in several years and he was happy to root for several former teammates, but as Porter notes, the Vezina Trophy winner is content with his private, quiet lifestyle:
My focus and mind is on learning about other stuff. I learned so much about hockey and that area. I feel like I’ve learned as much as I needed to learn about it… My time with the Boston Bruins was very rewarding. My time with USA Hockey was very rewarding. I’ve decided to keep what I’ve been doing with my life and learning to myself, at this point for sure, and probably forever… you never know what the future may hold. I’m just taking life as it goes.